Well, we held off on this one as long as we could.
Generally, we like to see something in print (or, more accurately "electronic print") before we jump on a transfer rumor's bandwagon, and that has now happened with the supposed courtship by Orlando City of Republic of Ireland / Wigan Athletic winger James McClean. ESPNFC is the latest to bring up the subject, citing "Irish media" reports, of which our Googling the other day turned up nothing but the original source we saw.
The first rumblings we saw about this were from the Twitter account "MLS Transfers" and the idea seemed a bit farfetched at the time (and still does). To wit:
My sources at Orlando City told me nothing to rumors regarding James McClean. (He's a left-winger anyway...they need right side help.)— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) May 7, 2015
Still, I suppose we must weigh in with this rumor and give it the proper weight, so here goes.
As Paul Tenorio said on Twitter, McClean doesn't immediately address the needs of Orlando City, unless he can play on the right side in Kevin Molino's spot. It would make little sense to jump on McClean with a pretty solid group available at left wing now, including Brek Shea, or (hopefully) soon to return from the injured list.
So, maybe he's not a need, but is he a want?
McClean is 26, so he's in what should be his prime years. He failed to make too much of an impact with Championship side Wigan Athletic, which is about to get relegated to League One. He has made 30 appearances with only six starts this season, scoring six goals in league play, managing to pick up 11 yellow cards and one red card in that time.
The Irish international scored four goals in seven appearances for his country in 2014, after failing to score in his first 18 appearances in 2012 and 2013. He came up in professional football with Derry City in Ireland, scoring 18 total goals in four seasons before making his way to the English Premier League with Sunderland in 2011.
In two seasons with Sunderland, McClean scored seven league goals, three League Cup goals and added one in FA Cup play. All told, he made 44 appearances with Sunderland, starting 15. He was named Sunderland Young Player of the Year for 2011-12. In the last two seasons with Wigan Athletic, McClean has nine goals and 10 assists in league play in 54 appearances (20 starts).
McClean could obviously be a useful player for Adrian Heath, so if the price was right, this move could actually make sense, but it would make more sense if he were a right wing. An experienced player like McClean would allow Heath to bring Carlos Rivas along more slowly, however. But again, we're talking about want vs. need at this point and Orlando City just doesn't need McClean.
We put the likelihood of these rumors coming true at extremely low, especially owing to Tenorio's exemplary track record with his club sources. However, this is a move that could make more sense in a future window, and can you ever really rule out any soccer rumor? #ZlatanToOrlandoCity